JOLIET – Mayor Bob O'Dekirk's sideline career as a drummer in a rock band came into play in a decision announced Wednesday on Anthony's Restaurant & Pub.
The city announced that O'Dekirk has signed off on an agreement made last week that requires Anthony's to stop staging live entertainment and close at 2 a.m. on weekends.
The agreement, made official by the mayor's concurrence, came in the aftermath of a July 23 shooting in the parking lot at the bar located at 3151 Voyager Lane.
The city news release on the decision also included a lengthy statement from O'Dekirk about his "professional relationship with Anthony's."
The statement appears to be a reference to O'Dekirk's appearance with his band Hot Mess at Anthony's on Jan. 27.
The Herald-News asked O'Dekirk about his band playing at Anthony's after the Tuesday city council meeting.
"My band's played all over town," he said. "I've played for years."
He then walked away, saying, "have a good night" without taking further questions on the matter.
Hot Mess has played at many bars and venues, including "Taste of Joliet" this year.
In his statement, O'Dekirk discussed the potential for a conflict of interest in regulating businesses in which he has a relationship.
O'Dekirk said he enjoys eating at Anthony's and hopes they can "put their current troubles behind them. Having said that, the type of activity that has happened surrounding their establishment cannot, and will not, be tolerated.
"The rules apply to everyone, even citizens and business owners with a connection to local officials. The people of Joliet need to know that their elected officials will respond to any situation that is putting people in danger.
"I think the city's actions here demonstrate our commitment to fighting violence in every corner of the city. I hope that the new rules the city is imposing on Anthony's will work and that they can continue to be a viable restaurant and bar in our community."
O'Dekirk was out of town last week on vacation when Anthony's agreed to close early and not stage entertainment.
73 police calls this year
The hearing was called after the Joliet Police Department approached Interim City Attorney Chris Regis about problems at Anthony's. O'Dekirk was out of town on vacation.
Regis determined that the bar could be brought in for a hearing on the basis of being a nuisance business because of the numbers of police calls at Anthony's.
Police have been called to the bar 132 times in the past three years. The number of incidents has been increasing in 2017. There have been 73 calls so far this year. Regis last week said 54 of those calls were "problematic – either violence or an unwarranted drain on police resources."
One of those incidents occurred on Feb. 5 when shots were fired outside the bar – again in the early morning hours – and one hit a window.
Regis said the liquor commission took no action regarding the Feb. 5 incident because it could not be determined whether the shots came from Anthony's parking lot or outside of the property. Police at the time said the shots were fired during a fight in the parking lot.
Anthony's also made a $250 contribution on March 24 to Joe Clement's successful campaign for Joliet Park District board in the April 4 election. Clement is a Joliet police officer assigned to the mayor's office, and his duties include investigations into potential violations of the liquor code.
"To be honest with you, I'm friends with all kinds of businesses. I've been there 25 years," Clement said Wednesday. "I'm friends of businesses where I spend money. I patronize businesses. I've patronized Anthony's."
Clement said he did not investigate the July 23 incident at Anthony's because it happened on the weekend.
"I just compiled the facts from the police report and compiled stats like calls for service, and I submitted all that with a staff memo to Chris Regis," Clement said.
He said that his work would not be affected by his relationship with Anthony's or other businesses.
"The rules apply to everybody whether I patronize your business or not," Clement said. "If you violate the Joliet liquor code, I'm going to discipline you. Everybody gets treated equally."